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sunset light sends the  light brown sand a ruddy ruby red

sunset light sends the light brown sand a ruddy ruby red

A long drive through sandy, sometimes rutted bush roads, leads to the western tip of Magnetic Island, a small island off the Queensland north coast.

the author, waiting for sunset

the author, waiting for sunset

West Point is a sought after location on the island in which to watch the sun set over the strip of water between the island and the Australian mainland.

West Point, Magnetic Island, Queensland

West Point, Magnetic Island, Queensland

We gathered with backpackers and locals keen to bask in the last light of the day and watch it sink out of sight. One of the delightful additions was the spectacular light that lit up the sand making it gleam a ruby red. The sand rivulets are actually made by what appeared to be fresh water bubbling up through the sand from inland and seeping back into the ocean.

a sleeping koala staking out his territory

a sleeping koala staking out his territory

Earlier this year I took off for a weeks R&R with extended family to Magnetic Island, an island off Queensland’s north coast. Over half the island is National Park. Being separated from the mainland (it sits 8 ks or 5 miles offshore) has enabled the island to become a rich haven for local wildlife, including the koala who is under threat in so many other locations due to environmental destruction, disease and non-native predators.

Arthur Bay

Arthur Bay

The scenery is spectacular. The island itself is fringed with isolated coves for the sun-lover, and while the water is gloriously clear and warm there are ‘stingers’ at certain times of year that require caution and/or nylon ‘onesies’ to protect swimmers. In some locations you can find bottles of vinegar on hand, an old remedy for stingers that can alleviate some of the pain until further help arrives.

granite 'totem' outcrops are common on the island

granite ‘totem’ outcrops are common on the island

There are many walking trails on the island, most meander past gigantic granite boulders and tall Hoop pines, through eucalypt forest or a patch of rainforest. Some take you on a steady climb up to old World War 2 forts where troops kept watch over Cleveland Bay, an important anchorage and assembly point for convoys operating in the South Pacific.

The author, taking in the spectacular view from a WW2 fort

The author, taking in the spectacular view from a WW2 fort

One of the highlights of our visit was to hire a four wheel drive and drive up to the western extremity of the island to watch the sun set over the water. A lovely finish to another perfect day of balmy weather and natural scenery.

silvereye

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P1150404One of the highlights of a weekend away at a remote location ‘Point Lookout’ in the New England National Park was seeing the male Superb Lyrebird and his female companions scrapping around in the dirt near the residence. The New England National Park, located in the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales, has spectacular scenery and pristine wilderness including World Heritage rainforests.P1150423 (1)

The Superb Lyrebird is one of the Parks many inhabitants. A great mimic its sounds can be mistaken for any number of birds, animals, or human made noises including chainsaws, telephones and trains. It is a ground dwelling bird, the males growing to 80-100 cms including a long 55 cm tail. When attracting a female the male dances, turning his tail upside down over his back and spreading its delicate fringes over himself like a mantel. It is a beautiful sight to both see and hear.

brahminy kiteBrahminy Kites are another common bird on Magnetic Island. They are medium sized raptors that live on the coast swooping over the water and land to feed on fish, insects and dead animals. Like all raptors they look very majestic when airborne. They tend to be locally nomadic and this was one of a number that were occupying the ferry terminal and mariner on the island. Instead of trees they utilised the tall light poles as perches.

 

female (with speckled feathers) and a male feed on wild macadamia nuts

female (with speckled feathers) and a male feed on wild macadamia nuts

The Red-tailed Black Cockatoos on Magnetic Island are fortunate indeed. Not only is this small island off Townsville, QLD at the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef it is predominately classed as a National Park so much of it is untouched vegetation. Growing on the island are numerous wild macadamia nut trees and these parrots happily munched on them, picking the  fallen ripe ones off the ground. The female is distinguished by the speckles on her feathers.

island parrots

rainbow lorikeetsMagnetic Island mid-way off the Queensland coast teems with parrots, including these Rainbow Lorikeets.

I have travelled in Asia and North America and loved every minute of it but my bucket list now includes more of Australia. This year I have been down to Bega on the New South Wales south coast,

Potato Point - looking north

Potato Point – looking north

a lovely oasis where old-fashioned single lane roads weave around headlands and through small villages.

Referred to as the Sapphire Coast it is a continuous panorama of rocky coastal headlands, rainforests, bird filled lagoons and camping grounds perched on river inlets and hidden away in isolated hamlets.

There is something about the camaraderie of camping grounds that I really enjoy.

Dalmeny

Dalmeny

Though I was staying with an old friend in his home at Dalmeny, we visited his brother at Dalmeny campground.  He is well set up as a nomad, complete with a terrific camper trailer and an adorable odd-coloured-eyed blue heeler.

Gary’s dog

Gary’s dog

This area of the New South Wales south coast is a nature and art lovers paradise, overflowing as it is with national parks and nature reserves, walking trails that meander for hours through changing landscapes,  surf and swimming spots, and quaint ‘arty’ villages made up of clusters of restored buildings, green streetscapes and folksy cafes.

 

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